News 2008


Army hunts for Mt Elgon militia sponsors


Date: 7/3/2008

A former nominated MP is among prominent people being sought by the military over their involvement in Sabaot Land Defence Force operations.

This is contained in a report that shows military operations in Mt Elgon District as having entered another phase — that of tracking down SLDF financiers. It was released on Tuesday as the military declared victory against SLDF members, three months after their operation started in the district.

“We are now embarking on the next step to follow up the financiers of SLDF,” Colonel Stephen Boiywo, who is the head of military operations in the area, said.

Some of the alleged sponsors cited in the report, whose identities we cannot reveal for legal reasons, include a former MP, councillors and political party activists. Another suspect topping the list is only described in the report as a “prominent politician”.

Col Boiywo presented the report to Cabinet ministers George Saitoti (Internal Security) and Yusuf Haji (Defence) at the Kapkota military camp in the district. Some Government officers are mentioned in the report as having worked for the militia.

“The late Matakwei’s gang had a lot of informers within the country’s security agencies,” the report adds.

Until he was gunned down, Wycliffe Matakwei was the commander of the SLDF, which is accused of having executed 714 people since 2006. The ministers toured the district and visited Kopsiro, one of the areas that was hit hard by SLDF fighters.

They laid a foundation stone at Panandega and commissioned the construction of a permanent base for the military. Troops moved to the area last March following a failed operation by police, including officers from the General Service Unit.

Rifles recovered

Hundred of rifles have been recovered so far. Sophisticated weapons, including a bazooka and rocket-propelled grenades, were also seized. Such weapons, which the soldiers said had been bought and smuggled from Uganda, can bring down a helicopter or demolish an entire military camp.

“I want to assure you that the military will not leave. We’ve troops on all our borders and why not here, at the border with Uganda?” Mr Haji said.

Prof Saitoti said more police stations would be set up and existing ones strengthened by equipping them with sophisticated weapons. Said Col Boiywo: “Our activities were not as bad as some people have been saying.”